Environmental Issues

Economic development and population growth are putting increasing pressure on natural resources, and human activities are causing unprecedented environmental changes, including changes to the global climate. The EVO project is focussing on a range of environmental problems which affect directly the livelihoods and well-being of people in the UK. What are the environmental issues, and how might cloud technologies enable society to make more informed decisions when addressing these problems?

Sustainable natural resources

There is a need for a better understanding of how resources such as water and soils can be used sustainably. Because they are intimately linked, developing better integrated approaches to understanding and modelling soils and the water cycle is an imperative.

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Diffuse agricultural pollution

Pollution of soil and water resources from agricultural use of fertilizers and pesticides is widespread and pernicious, and diffuse agricultural pollution is a significant cost to the UK. There is a need to improve our understanding and predict more effectively the transport and fate of diffuse agricultural pollutants in the environment.

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Environmental change

Global climate change is a major environmental challenge potentially shaping the long-term availability of water resources and the nature of extreme events. There is a need to model with more certainty the effects of environmental change on the terrestrial water cycle.

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Ecosystem services

The huge variety of life on Earth provides a multitude of services. These include environmental services such as: purifying water, regenerating soils, cycling nutrients, and reducing pollution. Our challenge is to understand better the role of the most important ecosystem processes and services so that those ecosystems can be protected.

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For a wider perspective on these and related issues see ‘Next Generation Science for Planet Earth’ published by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the associated NERC science theme reports.